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What's the impact of food price volatility on labour supply and economic growth?

by Mr. Julian Hochscherf

Dear members of the forum,

I am doing a PhD on the insurability of weather-induced food price shocks in Sub-Saharan Africa using index-based microinsurances. I am keen to discover consequences resulting from food price volatility for the effective labour supply. In addition, I would like to analyze whether this labor supply decision can be an explanation for low economic growth in countries showing relatively higher food price volatility.

The first step of the project will be to find empirical evidence that there is indeed a reaction concerning effective labor supply in the face of volatile food prices. A second step would be to discover price patterns between adverse weather events and food prices and to determine the effects for insurance indexes. As I stand at the beginning of that project, I would be glad to receive many propositions, feedbacks of and contacts to more experienced practitioners or researchers etc.

Julian Hochscherf

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Max Blanck FAO, Italy

Dear all,

The 2011 FAO Report "The state of Food Insecurity in the World" (SOFI) explored this issue to some extent. On page 14, 15 and 16 the report analyzes the relataionship between food prices and labour.

On page 17, for instance, we find "In addition to affecting different types of households differently, changes in food prices also affect different household members differently. For example, women’s participation in the labour force may increase substantially during economic crises,21 such as when males migrate in search of better employment. The resultant additional workload places stress on the time they have available to engage in household work and child care. The mortality of infant girls also increases more than that of infant boys during crises."

Best reagrds,